High Life

High Life

Mere months after releasing their first collaborative effort, Someday World, guitarist Karl Hyde (of the British electronic duo Underworld) and musical explorer Brian Eno released High Life, a collection signaling a departure from their debut’s Taking Tiger Mountain–era flavoring of skewered pop. These songs are longer and more limber, sprawling this way and that with Afropop-inspired structures, polyrhythmic percussion, and fleet acoustic and electric guitar work. The kinetic “Dbf” and the overheated “Moulded Life” recall the still-remarkable Eno/Byrne collaborations of the early ‘80s (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Talking Heads’ Remain in Light). Nimble guitars are plentiful throughout (additional musicians contributed guitars, drums, vocals, keyboards, and more). Occasionally, shimmering, electronic threads—woven into trademark Eno blankets of reverb and synthesizers—envelope a tune in hazy comfort. This is “world music” the way Eno hears it. “Lilac” is a stellar, slow simmer of Caribbean spice, and “Cells & Bells” takes Eno out of the airport and into a steaming jungle, with hissing insects and wayward space travelers.

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